Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ballin' on a Budget

Disclaimer: Before you ask where I got my numbers from, remember that Doug & I are a one income couple with no mortgage or many other of the more serious bills right now. I do not have kids yet. I do not have all of those extra expenses at this time in life. So, don't think I'm too crazy. Budgeting and saving has to be built around your lifestyle and conditions. These are mine...

So lots of people always talk about wanting to save but not having self control, blah blah blah. I'm not saying that's not an excuse, I'm a spender too, when I let myself. But I'm a huge saver (Thank you, Dad, for passing that on to me.)  I like to be able to know that I can save and get what I want. I like to have a small cushion for emergencies and such. I mean there are many reasons for and benefits of saving. I've been told that I'm pretty good at saving, to the point where I have actually helped save other peoples money for them. I'm not a financial adviser, or an expert on saving, this is merely just me sharing what I do or things that I have read & mayyybe you'll see something that you can try. :)

Budget- Budgeting can sound easy...and for some it really is. But for lots of people, it may not be. There are several things that may fluctuate that may make a budget hard to make and follow.
What I do is make a list. I am a list fool! 
First, decide whether you want to do monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly. To each their own, right? Do what works for you.
Me, I'm always changing it...I'll do kind of an overall goal-anything and everything I can think of (so this list sometimes looks ridiculous) -haha-, but to have it all down in front of you gets it out of your brain and you're less likely to forget that you want/wanted to save for or do. Then break it down by month, but I end up also doing bi-weekly along with it, since that's when Doug gets paid.
Start out by listing your debts (bills, anything you make owe to anyone), then things you need/want, and then how much you'd like to shoot to save for.
-List in order of importance! (Monthly bills, short term goals, long term goals)
-Round UP! (At least on your bills/debts. What I mean by that is, if you have a bill that is around let's say $135.56 every month, just write it down as 136 OR you can round on up to 140. Why? 1- An even number in change just makes it easier for adding and subtracting (obvi) 2- Sometimes bills can fluctuate just a little. 3-Because it always makes you smile when you've budgeted for 140 & spent less meaning you now have approx. $5 extra give or take some change. ;) )
Note: Some things may have specific amount, like I'm wanting to save for a couch/loveseat set which will be about $700. Some, however, do not; I'm also saving for any trips of concerts this which do not necessarily have a set amount (unless you MAKE a set amount as a goal).
-Be Realistic. As I said, my list can look long and ridiculous. But I'm also realistic in knowing that I may not accomplish all of it, or may not save as much as I'd like. Whatever the case, don't set your self up for failure in spirit, or in general. I think you can have high hopes and be realistic at the same time.
-Keep your budget visible. On your desk or bulletin board, or in your phone, in your planner, whatever works.

Income- Once you have a budget kind of figured up. The next step is figuring out your monthly income. If you're a couple with 2 incomes, add them both -if you combine your money-. Or if you have one income, average the amount. If you have a fluctuating income look back at the past check amount and kind of find an average, or a common amount. Doug is on commission...his checks can range anywhere from the mid-to high $600's to the low end of $1000. So I usually use the most common amount on checks that I see, which is approx $800. I use it because the lower ones happen when he gets less work in, and the higher ones happen if he gets more. An $800(+change) check is "normal"..for a normal amount of hours. If you have a similar situation you could do that or you could always use a lower amount.
-Round Down! (Say you get paid bi-weekly.You get paid $843.72 one pay day and $814.96 the other with a monthly income of $1658.68. Instead just write it down as $800 for both with your monthly being $1600. Why? Well, you don't ever want to think you have more than you do. Rounding up in this situation wouldn't be smart, obviously. And, same as above, it's always nice to have the "extra".)
-Remember there may be some sort of fluctuations (depending on your job). Unexpected/unpaid days off (sick or other reasons), cut hours, etc. etc.

Okay, so you have both of these, now start subtracting [in order of importance]. Bills first, money owed, things needed right away. And then you can move on to saving, things wanted, etc.
Don't necessarily budget in what you want to save unless you know for sure you want to save a set amount per month. (The reason I say this is because for some, it's easier to figure out your bills and then see your new balance and then you can pull out whatever amount you're comfortable with saving at the time without the pressure of "oh man I'm supposed to save $60 out of this check but if I do I won't have quite enough until next pay day." No body likes that & it can be discouraging.)
If you're factoring in a short term goal that will take a little longer to save for (a number of months), go ahead and figure out how much you want to allow yourself to save per month. This is where budgets can change per month because you can have a shorter term goal that you can put back for a month or so. Sounds dumb, huh? For some it may be. But, oh well. I know I'm going to have my cat spayed sometime this year, that's a short term goal, however I'm not planning it right away, meaning there are other things that can take precedence in my budget for now. Get it now?
Also, put down the minimum (you can always pull out more, should you have the wiggle room.) Like, if I plan to save $700 for couch/loveseat set and plan for $100/month to be set aside for that, I can always save more, but I know I want to shoot for at least $100 per month.
Example: (btw- the montly/biweekly are the incomes) I did monthly and then broke it down to biweekly. Also, this isn't my Jan. budget, lol, just an example.  I also forgot to add groceries on there, lol. We contribute a lot to gorceries since we don't pay any kind of rent, so as I said, just is jussst to give an idea. Mine also changes a lot, and that's okay. You have to adjust to life sometimes.

Once you've got all of that figured out it's time to decide how you're going to save. The most obvious for people is a savings account. But there are lots of other ways too. Most of which don't even have to be "budgeted".

Ways to save: This is a to each their own type thing. Do what works for you. I save several different ways.
Save your change! Or any change you find for that matter. Yes, I'm a finders-keepers person when it comes to coins since there are a lot of people who don't place much value on them. If I find you change sitting around the house, and it goes unclaimed for a certain amount of time, I'm gonna keep it. (Either I'll keep it, or I'll put it in my niece or nephews piggy bank.) Which brings me to my next thing...

Piggy banks: Yes, that's right. I still use piggy banks, as a matter of fact I have 2 in my room. And guess what?! They're not just for change! I put bills in mine. Anytime I have an extra dollar bill, or a 5, or whatever, and I can't think of anything it could be used for right away it goes into my piggy banks and is "forgotten" about. If you get a piggy bank that looks for like a decoration, use it for bills or larger change, if you can't see the money & if you don't look at it as a piggy bank ALL THE TIME, I feel like you're less likely to break into it unless you reallllly need it. Ya know? These are the 2 that are in my bedroom...

Car: If you go to the store, or shopping with cash. Anytime you get change, keep your bills and put all change up. I use one of the cup holders in my car for change, but I keep it covered up because I don't want any crazies to bust out my window for some change. It's there for if I need it for anything, or it's there to be saved. I empty it out every so often, leaving a bit over a dollar or two in there.

Envelopes: Yes, I do this for cash...I have various amount of money in lots of different envelopes hidden, or put up, to where they're not visible or in sight daily. (Especially if you are saving for a long term goal, one of those that is just a I'll buy it once I've saved enough. For example, my camera, I've been saving on it for a while and I have a little over half saved for it. I'll buy it once I've got what I need, but have no goal date for it. except for wanting it right freaking nowww.) And if you are saving for a particular goal, make note of it..write on it or on a piece of paper to put in it! I can't tell you how many times I've came across one of my envelopes and wondered what the heck I was saving it for, if anything. Same goes for the amount, keep up with how much you put in or take out of it.
You could hide it if you'd like, just put it somewhere that you won't totally forget about!

Check out this post too. I don't what she talks about, but it's a great idea also.

I have a bit of a system...it may seem a little crazy but it works for me. My money doesn't go straight to the bank...
The change goes from piggy banks or my car, to a small box that I have safely put up, once it gets so full I it gets rolled. (But I don't roll all of it). Then the rolled up money gets put up again until I have enough change & cash to make a deposit, I try to wait til I have at least $50. For cash it just goes either in an envelope or to the little box until time for the bank.
That's close to $70 ready to be deposited.

Weekly allowance: If you're a debit/credit card user. Give yourself an allowance. I do this with Doug. We buy him thing to take for lunch but if he forget he ends up eating out...which is fine, if he knows he only has so much to spend (he's a little smarter with where he eats). We try with $20 and it usually works. (Try to make it go as far as it can before getting another $20 out.) It's his back up lunch money, or drink money, snack money, whatever. And when we do this he usually doesn't use his card throughout the week unless it's for something bigger or for gas.

The $5 Plan: Nicole just posted about this the other day but I had seen it floating around Pinterest for a couple of months. I personally am not really doing this one...but I think it's a great idea! Basically anytime you have a $5 bill, put it up (this is where an envelope or piggy bank could come in handy ;) ). Anyway, over time $5 adds up...think about it.

The 52 Week Plan: This is a new one. I just saw this on someone elses blog a week or so ago & I can not remember whose it was. But the place of origin in on the bottom of the pic...Anyway, the idea of this is to save every week, and the amount you save should match the week it is. Week 1- $1, Week 2- $2, Week 3-$3, etc etc. This one, I am going to do. I really like it. I think it's feasible because the highest mount is obviously $52 (52 weeks, ya know) & I don't think that is TOO high. Just my opinion. And at the end of 2013 you'll have $1378.00! That could be an awesome vacation for 2014, a shopping spree, etc...or just a great cushion to start 2014 with! Anyway, I'm going to get an envelope & either tape the picture on the front, or simply put it inside the envelope, just to help keep up.

Savings Account: I do have a savings account, I've had once since I was a kid. So naturally I carried on using one. I check it periodically, just to make sure everything is as it should be, & I deposit into it periodically. I try not to acknowledge how much I have too much cause seeing how much you could spend on this, that, and the other is tempting! Doug does not have access to the savings...between the two of us he's worse than me about spending, lol.

Other Tips:
-Don't budget yourself broke. The key is to be comfortable with your money.
-Be realistic with your goals!
-Don't be discouraged if you don't reach your goal(s) as quickly as you would like. 
-Don't use "no self-control" as an excuse that much, if you really want to save it, you can.
-Be aware of how much you actually have. ATM balances are great and all, but I suggest keeping your check register up yourself...yea, you know that thing that comes with checks that you're supposed to log every purchase in? That! That way you always see where you're money is going. (I suppose checking your acct online could be just as affective, however not everything is posted right away.)
-Try not living beyond your means. This is the biggest thing. Lots of people do these days. I'm not saying you have to be a tightwad, but just ask yourself if you need it. Do you really need to eat out every day and night? Or do you really need 3 pairs of shoes all in one trip? Do you really have to have a house that is twice the size that you need? Ask yourself if you HAVE to have it RIGHT now.
Lots of people would say, "Well no, but I want to." Well that's fine, enjoy crying in a corner waiting for your next paycheck.
-It's okay to splurge every once in a while. "But you just said..." I said all the time. You have to allow for some splurges!
-Communicate! If you're married or in a relationship where you share your money (or if you are a one income couple), communicate! Tell each other when you spend money. I'm in charge of the finances so Doug always tell me when is wants to, is going to, or does spend money. But I also tell him, out of respect. He is the money maker right now, so I always tell him if I bought or am going to buy something, or even if I'm going shopping & think I might spend money. You don't want the both of you to be spending away and then end up between a rock and a hard place.

You can be ballin' on a budget! Or at least living your life comfortably! Last year I went to 5 concerts, a comedy show, took a 3 day trip to FL, going to the Aquarium, pre-buying tickets for a couple of concerts for this year, and was able to squeeze in a little bit of crafting. Doug was able to go gator hunting as well as spending the money that comes with deer hunting supplies, gas, etc... We painted our bathroom, put new flooring down in it, bought a few more other household items as well as other stuff for when we continue the work in the basement. Were able to buy clothes and things when we needed them & we made it through Christmas with a little less stress (even though it didn't seem like it, lol).
While we didn't do everything I wanted to do, that's a good year as far as fun, and our needs, and such.

My financial life isn't perfect, we still have a long way to go, we couldn't go out to buy a new car or a house or anything right now. But, for where we are at at this point, it all works. And it'll change to accommodate whatever we need or want to save for. :)

**One of the main points I'm trying to make is, unless you are on really hard times right now, more than likely you can save! You just have to want to & you HAVE to practice self control.

Hope I wrote this out well enough to understand! lol & if I've given you any ideas then that makes me happy!
So what are some of your methods of saving?

Happy Saving!


(P.s. Tell what the title is from without looking it up & I'll love you forever! ;) If no one guesses I'll tell ya in the next post!)


  1. Gosh, I pretty much do the SAME EXACT thing that you do. I make a bunch of lists, I always round up on the amount that we need to pay for bills, and I round down on how much our checks are usually. We have 2 piggy banks that we don't open until their full, and we have envelopes too for bills! I keep a whole bunch of change in my car as well, I even have a jar for it! Saving for us has been one of our BIGGEST challenges since we've been married, but boy does it pay off once you finally get in the swing of things!! =D Good luck girl! Looks like you've got one heck of a plan!

  2. I gave you the Versatile Blogger Award! http://jessicarbrackman.blogspot.com/2013/01/im-versatile.html


Thanks for taking the time to stop by & comment! It makes my day!